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How to fire employees (with minimal collateral damage)

With the economy suffering as it is and all companies seeking ways to economize, it’s highly probable that a substantial percentage of our readers will be facing having to fire staff.

Needing to cut staff is a painful process as those colleagues one has decided to terminate often take the news personally or feel unjustly victimized or insufficiently appreciated.

Here are some guidelines for that unpleasant meeting in which you announce the unfortunate news that the company will no longer require your subordinate’s services.

1)  Prepare yourself in writing
You should have a short document prepared in which the reasons for the employee’s termination are clearly enumerated and the conditions of termination are clearly spelled out. You should have a work certificate already prepared and all financial arrangements already formulated.

2)  Prepare your message
Write out the ‘script’ that you intend to follow during the termination interview and also what you intend to say to the rest of your remaining team.  Stay brief and stay on subject.

3)  Prepare the follow-up steps
Meetings should be set up with your HR department as well as your jurists.  Make sure your terminated employee has handed over all relevant dossiers and company property.

4)  Shield yourself emotionally
Don’t take anything personally.
Remember that your role objective is the survival and prosperity of the company. The decision you have taken is rational, not emotional. Accept that you will be somewhat anxious and discuss the decision if necessary with your hierarchy or with HR.

5)  Anticipate your Employee’s reactions
People rarely react calmly to being told they are being terminated.  On the contrary, they can become angry, frustrated,
irrational, tearful. Understand that and prepare yourself to take the shock of their reaction and manage it as best you can.

To Do
Invite your employee to have a seat
Get right to the point
Explain your reasons
Wait for his reaction and listen attentively
Re-explain your decision if necessary
Be clear on the date of the end of the contract and on the time at which he must leave the company premises.
Give an overview of the departure/separation conditions
Do not overextend the meeting — the meeting should take no more than 15 minutes.

Not to do
Don’t make friendly greetings like ‘Hi, how’s it going? or ‘Pleasure to see you’”
Don’t make small talk
No humor either
Don’t defend yourself, don’t justify yourself, don’t raise your voice
Don’t threaten
Do not discuss the future of other colleagues
Don’t sympathize
Don’t try to minimize the situation
Don’t take take his reaction personally
Refrain from platitudes (no remarks like, ‘I understand what you must be feeling…’, ‘you’ll see, it will all be OK…’ , etc)

Here is what might happen on site:

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